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Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, set to energize Bay Area

October 24 2018
The 55-kilometer Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, scheduled to open for traffic on Wednesday, will provide a crucial boost to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, analysts said.As the first road link to span the Pearl River Estuary, the bridge and tunnel will energize the regional economy and integrate cities from both sides of the estuary into one dynamic community.The Bay Area, in the Pearl River Delta, encompasses nine cities in Guangdong province plus the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.Last year, the total GDP of those 11 cities reached 11.7 trillion yuan ($1.69 trillion). That means 5 percent of the nation's population contributed over 14 percent of country's GDP in 2017.Like the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States, the strategy behind the development of the Bay Area in China was to merge the 11 cities into a world-class city cluster, able to compete on a global scale."The HZMB is one of the most important elements of the development of the Bay Area," said Jason Ni Mengcheng, an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at City University of Hong Kong. Ni specializes in research into large transportation infrastructure.The bridge, he said, will redistribute resources in the Bay Area and generate a significant impact on regional development.Noting that the HZMB will be open 24 hours a day, Ni said the structure, for the first time, will provide an unstoppable transportation channel between east and west across the Pearl River Estuary.Although ferry services run throughout the day, their frequency is reduced substantially after midnight, Ni said. Thus, the operation of the HZMB will significantly increase the flow of people and goods across the estuary.Ni also noted that the bridge will encourage more Hong Kong people to visit Macao. This will promote communication and exchanges of professional services between the two SARs. He predicted it will help diversify Macao's economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism and the gaming industry.Construction of the HZMB, the world's longest sea-spanning structure, began at the end of 2009.Once operational, the bridge will cut the travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai or Macao from four hours by car to less than 60 minutes.Antony Leung Kam-chung, Hong Kong's former financial secretary from 2001 to 2003, participated in the SAR government's initiative to build a bridge connector prior to 2003.A study of the Pearl River Delta at that time showed that foreign and Hong Kong investors would be most attracted to locales within three hours of Hong Kong, Leung said.Development still lags in places like Zhuhai and Jiangmen, which are farther away, on the western side of the delta, he continued.Once the bridge opens, and with the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link now operational, he predicted more investment will flow westward as far as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.Lin Ming, chief engineer of the bridge's island and tunnel project, said the HZMB will create more urban areas in the Bay Area, given that urbanization is stimulated in coastal regions."The delta in Guangdong is a perfect site for metropolises," Lin said. "Sustainable development in the delta requires more transportation infrastructure-the more, the better."The HZMB also will serve as an example for future cross-border cooperation under the "one country, two systems" principle. The project was a cross-border effort, shared by the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.Su Yi, head of the Working Group on Cross-boundary Policy Research for bridge operator HZMB Authority, said the cooperation and coordination among the three governments opened a door for institutions under different political systems and cultures to conduct more exchanges.It has laid a foundation for the three administrations to have more cooperation in the future development of the Bay Area, he said.Better communication within the Bay Area will start with the easier flow of capital trading and the innovation of policies, Su said. But ultimately, it's about the connection between people from different backgrounds, he said.Gavan Ord, manager of business and investment policy for CPA Australia, a global accounting body, said that it helps change people's mindsets in terms of business activities with Macao, Zhuhai and other cities on the western coast of the estuary."With the opening of the HZMB, you feel that you are closer to the other side of the ocean, and it helps integrate separate communities into one," Ord said.Source: China Daily

What to expect from China's first import expo?

October 23 2018
The first-ever China International Import Expo (CIIE), scheduled for Nov. 5-10 in Shanghai, will see the participation of over 130 countries and regions, and more than 2,800 companies. Here are some facts and figures about the event.HUGE OPPORTUNITIESChina has been the world's second largest importer of goods for nine consecutive years, and made up 10.2 percent of global imports in 2017.It is one of the world's largest markets of high-end products such as industrial robots, chips and machine tools.The country announced import tariff cuts on 1,585 industrial products including machinery, spare parts and raw materials from Nov. 1, after removing tariffs from most imported medicine in May and reducing tariffs on autos and consumer products in July.The CIIE will see 160,000 buyers from over 80,000 domestic and foreign companies, exceeding the organizer's expectation of 15,000 companies.WIDE PARTICIPATIONChina has granted the status of "Guest of Honor" to 12 countries, namely, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.More than 30 of the world's 44 least developed countries will participate in the event. The expo provides two standard booths free of charge for less developed countries.The CIIE will receive companies from all the G20 member states, as well as 50 countries and regions along the Belt and Road.Attending companies include more than 200 businesses on the Fortune Global 500 list, as well as a wide range of small and medium-sized companies such as fruit exporters in Southeast Asia and coffee makers in South America.HIGH-TECH PRODUCTSThe CIIE will receive U.S. chip giants Qualcomm and Intel, Japanese electronics heavyweight Sony and Panasonic, as well as consumer goods leaders Unilever and Lego.German manufacturer Waldrich Coburg will exhibit a 200-tonne milling machine, the largest item on display at the expo.Eight world-leading machine tool producers will participate, with more than 10 exhibits making a first appearance in China, Asia or even globally.Exhibitors are expected to launch more than 100 new products and technologies at the event.High-end and intelligent equipment will occupy one of the CIIE's biggest exhibition zones, covering 60,000 square meters.VISITORS &VolunteersAround 300,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Shanghai during the expo. The municipality said it is geared up to accommodate visitors, and controlled room rates from Oct. 26 to Nov. 14.More than 5,000 volunteers are recruited for the CIIE, offering language services in English, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and French. All volunteers are trained in language delivery, interpersonal communication, coping with stress and service protocol.HOST CITYWith a population of around 24 million, the host city of Shanghai is China's industrial and commercial hub, and one of the country's earliest cities to build economic ties with foreign countries. Shanghai port has handled the most containers worldwide for seven consecutive years.In preparation for the expo, Shanghai has set up a specialized court and judicial team for handling civil and commercial cases concerning the expo, the conference and exhibition industry, the expo venue and commercial cases concerning foreign affairs.A special center to deal with disputes concerning intellectual property rights has also been set up.The municipal government has been renovating roads around the expo venue, and has developed cellphone applications to better guide traffic around the area. It added eight bus routes and prepared 100 spare buses for the event.Source: en.people.cn

Hainan trade zone will boost opening-up

October 18 2018
China released a plan to build Hainan into a pilot free trade zone-including substantial relaxation of market access for foreign companies and upgrading of trade facilitation-to create a gateway for opening up toward the Pacific and the Indian oceans.The China (Hainan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, approved by the State Council, will cover the whole island of Hainan. The government plans to make the zone an international tourism and shopping center, as well as offer services and support for development of the Belt and Road Initiative and other national strategies.Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said as a demonstration of China's resolve to further open up and promote economic globalization, the island, which covers 35,400 square kilometers, will be granted more autonomy to enact reforms and speed the fostering of a law-based, international and convenient business environment.Hainan's FTZ will adopt pre-entry national treatment and negative list management to increase openness, especially in areas like seed production, healthcare, telecommunications, internet, aviation, marine economy and new energy vehicle manufacturing.It will abolish stock ownership ratio limits for foreigners in new vegetable variety breeding and seed production. It will transfer the power to approve foreign investment in value-added telecommunications services from the central government to Hainan province. In addition, it will allow foreign companies to hold up to a 51 percent ownership share in life insurance companies and remove foreign share ratio restrictions in vessel and general aircraft design, manufacturing and maintenance.Source: China Daildy

Shanghai issues service trade negative list

October 10 2018
The Shanghai municipal government released a negative list for cross-border service trade, the first of its kind in China.A total of 159 detailed regulations have been included in the new negative list, covering 31 industries. The new list defined cross-border service trade as "commercial activities delivered by overseas service providers to consumers in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone".There will be three major business models covered by the new list, including cross-border service directly delivered to the FTZ, overseas service provided to consumers in the FTZ and overseas service delivered via natural persons in the FTZ.Different from service trade negative lists adopted in other parts of the world, which are compiled in descriptive wordings, the new list introduced in the Shanghai FTZ is based on industries. In this sense, the list in Shanghai will be more transparent and can be implemented more easily, said Shen Weihua, deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.Countries and regions which have signed free trade agreements with more favorable opening-up polices for service trade, Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, or Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, should stick to the previous regulations.Wu Qing, vice-mayor of Shanghai, said the newly released negative list will help to speed up the supply-side reform for ongoing service trade in Shanghai and promote the upgrading of foreign trade.For the next step, the municipal government will look to further opening-up in tourism, education, telecommunications, professional services and qualifications for professional technicians in certain areas."The manufacturing industry has become more service-oriented and the service industry has become more high-end by involving more outsourcing, digitalization and integration with other industries. In this sense, the service trade has become the new driving force of world trade," said Wu."The introduction of the negative list for cross-border service trade will help China better cope with global economic and trade changes and further integrate into the world value chain."Given the sluggish world economy and rising trade protectionism, the negative list will help to remove the barriers in service trade and create a more open and free market," he added.Statistics provided by the Ministry of Commerce showed that China's total volume of service trade amounted to $695.68 billion in 2017, up 5.1 percent year-on-year. Shanghai surpassed all other cities in the nation in terms of the transaction volume of service trade, with the number coming at $195.5 billion. Service trade contributed up to 29.1 percent to the city's total outbound trade volume last year.This year marks the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Shanghai FTZ. The form of negative list, which was first introduced in the Shanghai FTZ in September 2013, has been promoted nationwide. On top of that, there have been 127 reform and innovative policies adopted in the city or all over the country.Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang said at a meeting in late September that the Shanghai FTZ has taken the lead in the country in terms of further reform and opening-up since its establishment. Efforts should be made to accelerate the opening-up in key areas, including the integration between commodity trade and service trade, in order to create an equal, united and highly efficient market environment.Source: China Dail

City gears up for first import expo

October 10 2018
As the first China International Import Expo is less than one month away, the host city Shanghai has reached the final stage of its preparations, as products from all over the world have been arriving in the city.Designed to be a world-class event on a par with the most renowned exhibitions in the world, the inaugural import expo combines country exhibitions, enterprise exhibitions and forums to promote free trade and an open global economy.The event, which will be held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center from Nov 5 to 10 in Shanghai, was first announced in 2017 by President Xi Jinping, who called it "an important policy statement and action demonstrating China's embracing of greater openness".According to the China International Import Expo Bureau, a total of 2,800 companies from the G20 member states, as well as 50 countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, will participate in the expo. Around 160,000 buyers from more than 80,000 domestic and overseas enterprises have also signed up for the event.In addition, 80 countries and three international organizations have confirmed their participation in the event, said the bureau.As the event is drawing near, goods from foreign exhibitors have arrived at local customs. Shanghai has opened green channels for the products, significantly cutting the time needed for them to be unloaded and stored in local warehouses.So far, it is estimated that products from more than 1,500 exhibitors have arrived in the Chinese mainland, while those from another 1,000 have been or are being shipped.Gao Rongkun, director of Shanghai Customs, said that the customs department has drawn on the experiences from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai Expo to design measures for the upcoming event in November, such as offering a one-stop service for exhibit registration, clearance and supervision, and reconciliation.Several other measures were published in June, including the expansion of categories of imported exhibits for agricultural and livestock products, and the simplification of export and disposal procedures for exhibits after the expo.Fang Hui, general manager of the operation department of the National Exhibition and Convention Center, said a temporary customs inspection area will be set up in the northern plaza of the center for late arrivals or highly valuable exhibits that are not suitable for inspection at ports.Chinese companies are eyeing the great potential of boosting imports through the event."During the expo, we expect to import at least 1,000 kinds of products and services that have not been sold in the domestic market," said Wang Zhe, Party secretary of China's commercial giant Suning Holdings Group. "In the next three years, we plan to import goods worth 10 billion euros ($11.5 billion)."Liang Feng, president of the State-owned China National Machine Tool Sales and Technical Service Corporation, said the CIIE will see eight leading companies in the machine tool industry launch a dozen new products in China for the first time.More than 100 new products and technologies are expected to debut at the expo, according to statistics from the organizers.Forty-three African countries have confirmed their participation in the expo. Around 190 enterprises from Africa will promote local products such as Egyptian date palm, Ethiopian coffee, and Amarula from South Africa, according to the organizers."The CIIE shows China's changing trade strategy and its resolve to fulfill its responsibility as a major country and achieve mutual benefits and win-win cooperation with all nations," said Zhao Beiwen, deputy head of the World Economy Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.As the host city, Shanghai has been holding rehearsals, improving city infrastructure and training volunteers to meet needs of the upcoming event. A comprehensive rehearsal was held at the expo venue on Oct 4 covering various scenarios.Realizing that the six-day exhibition would be too short a period for exhibitors and buyers from all over the world to learn and take advantage of business opportunities in China, Shanghai's commerce commission has established exhibition and transaction platforms that would be available all year round. These platforms are aimed at providing a channel for foreign products, services and technology to enter the Chinese market.The municipality has also set up a one-stop, year-round platform that will feature import exhibits, including those from the six-day expo.Source:China Daily

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